James’s House

In 2019 my family moved into our new architecturally designed home in Merricks North. What is different is that we designed it to live off-grid, so for the last 5+ years that is what we have done (no connection to the grid). Now don’t go thinking we are forced to compromise on creature comforts, or we’re a bunch of doomsdayers preparing for the apocalypse, because we have a lavish home with very few compromises. To give you an example we have underfloor hydronic heating that uses heat pump technology, a built-in heated swimming pool, air-conditioning through the home, multiple heatpump hot water systems, a walk-in fridge, and automatic irrigation for the garden and vege beds. All controlled by a home automation system via apps on our phones.

My wife and I wanted to see if it was possible to live off-grid and what lifestyle choices we’d have to change to adapt. Professionally, as I have an electrical engineering background, I felt I could navigate through the different technologies in the renewable energy market and make good choices…..or NOT, more on this later as we adopt some bleeding edge
technology. In addition to NO GRID connection, we also have no public water supply or sewerage connection. We also try and grow as much fresh produce as we need.

What we have – A well-insulated home (get the thermal shell right is my first bit of advice), 48 kw of solar panels (36 kw on the ground and 12 kw on the roof of my man-cave shed) coupled to 6x Fronius inverters to produce 3-phase power, 100 kwh of Lithium Phosphate batteries, which then feed through 22kw’s of Selectronic inverters to control the whole off-grid network. As a back-up we do have a 20 KVA diesel generator. The whole system is fully automatic and can be monitored on our phones.

The journey so far has been rewarding. We have never had a blackout, we have no electricity bills, no water bills, and eat a lot of fresh vegetables and eggs. My wife and I have gained some valuable experience living off-grid. I mentioned earlier about employing
“bleeding edge” technology. I think it gets this name because you “bleed financially” when you get it wrong. Well, we got it wrong when we initially installed sodium (salt) batteries. Without going into all the reasons why, we had to replace them at a large cost and install Lithium Phosphate. We also got the placement of our solar ground array wrong and had to
reposition some. What we hope is we can help others from stepping on the same landmines we did by sharing our knowledge via the resources of Repower.

James – Merricks North